2nd & 3rd February, 2004
Photograph by Donna Marie
A Thought for Today
When in doubt, cross it out. And while
you’re at it, go ahead and write that e-mail but think twice . . . and
get a good night’s sleep before sending it.
Beginning Wednesday you can go to the store at
Stanyan House and order my
newest book Rusting in the Rain. It contains forty new and previously
uncollected poems and twenty-seven of my most requested works.
Here are the book’s technical specifications: “Rusting in the Rain New &
Selected Poetry” by Rod McKuen. Hardbound, 171 pages, Copper stamped &
perfect-bound on hard boards. Printed on acid-free, cream stock, Mondrian
paper from Florence, Italy. Printed & Bound in the USA by A&A Color,
Contains 67 poems in 10 separate categories. Richard Kegler of the P22
Font Foundry in Buffalo, NY designed the four typefaces used for Rusting
in the Rain, which includes P22-Stanyan Autumn created especially for the
So much for the details and technical specifications of ‘Rusting’. As high
as I am on it I’ll try not to hype it too much other than to state the
well known fact that this collection was promised thirty years ago. If
everyone who has written me or asked about the book in the last three
decades buys a single copy the first edition will sell out by next
weekend. Relax, I don’t expect that to happen.
THE MISSING HOLIDAYS
I had hoped Rusting in the Rain would be published in time for Christmas
giving but I kept tinkering with the manuscript, reluctant to let go of
it. Finally, even with a few typos still intact I gave the go ahead for
printing and binding. It feel good to know it’s behind me and I can devote
time to other things. As for the typos they can be excised and corrected
for the next printing.
Just before Christmas while I was still polishing the text and design
Edward broke his ankle and that meant in addition to everything else I had
a patient on my hands. There were his household chores to do too in
addition to my own. Edward is a natural athlete and always physically
active so being inactive doesn’t sit well with him. Illness does not bring
out the best in either of us but we got through it and his cast should be
off in a couple of weeks.
Thanks on his behalf and mine to all of you who sent well wishes and
There was no Holiday shopping this year, no notes sent off to friends and
Thank You Notes have yet to be written for gifts received. Ken was left to
handle The Flight Plan on a daily basis. Handle it he did and as always he
gave it everything. I especially enjoyed his personal touches, like
wishing Oprah a happy 50th Birthday and acknowledging the loss of one of
South Africa’s best songwriters. Ken is not only the best and most
concerned webmaster on the net but a trusted friend who manages – despite
the distance between Southern California and South Africa – to really get
inside my head. His choice of poetry and prose could not have been better.
Jay was in the mail to me often offering to help and doing so even though
our communication was not what it should have been. Melinda continued to
be on time with her monthly birthday updates (she celebrates another year
on the 10th) and is coming West for my annual STAGE concert next month. A
birthday toast and an apology for neglect will probably have to wait until
FRIENDS LOST & FOUND
One of my worst indiscretions was being incommunicado with Eric over the
holiday. Eric is not just the soul of A Safe Place to Land’s sound but a
man so full of ideas that being out of touch with him is a great personal
loss. I carefully file away his E-Mails until I can give priority to
answering them and then neglect to do so. This year I made only one New
Years resolution; to be better at keeping in touch. The first month of
2004 is history and this Flight Plan is my first effort at sending up
Eric was really there for me when I lost friends by going public with
losing the key to a closed (not by me) Stanyan By Mail and the attempt by
a friend to hijack a forty-plus year old copyright, trademarked name. Eric
was a voice of reason in a very haywire time. He provided great council
and didn’t choose up sides. Sure, I was surprised at the vitriol leveled
against me by those still pretending to be fans. But then I have never
understood the reason people take sides on any third-party issue,
especially when they lack the knowledge of the argument.
Friends divorce but my friendship with both parties’ remains intact.
Partners in business have falling outs but if I cannot ignore their
quarrels it is my loss and not theirs. I am trusted with secrets by both
sides of warring parties; I listen and keep their confidences. Most of the
time I practice what I preach, but I stumble too and am not proud of it.
Have another look at the “Thought for the Day” at the top of this page.
I am the poorer because mean verbiage on public message boards and
vitriolic e-mail poisoned a good friendship and an important partnership
in writing and performing that I wouldn’t know how to begin repairing. I
especially miss the talent, enthusiasm and musicianship of a gifted young
Am I saddened because some fans lashed out at me while still professing
trust? Of course, but that’s the price of being open. Some fans think they
know me because they relate to my work. Some do and continue to trust me
even when I show my failings. Those are the ones who go on standing by me
and I will always be there for them. I consider all of you family.
I love the fact that almost daily new people of every age and persuasion
stumble on to my work for the first time and write to tell me of the
experience. It gives me the courage to continue sharing my life and the
very best of reasons to go on writing.
With the loss of Stanyan By Mail I began with a wonderful team of friends
and associates to work on finally begin building Stanyan House. Tom,
Prince and Billy started from scratch and got Stanyan House up in time for
holiday shopping and they personally handled and filled all the orders
while still holding down full time, real time jobs. How they accomplished
this feat I’ll never know but they certainly did. With smiles, enthusiasm
and no attitude.
Tom did all the posting, handled the overall layout of the site and set up
a program in Quickbooks that is the mechanical heart of Stanyan House. And
he still had time to type orders.
Billy took on the Webmaster chores including mail. He photographed &
scanned new and old products, pulled & packed merchandise and kept a
series of rendezvous with the US Pony Express, Fed Ex and UPS.
Prince was responsible for the editorial work. He designed the stockroom
layout, lugged & put together shelves from Ikea, stocked merchandise and
other heavy lifting. He also cracked the whip – maybe he enjoys being the
Whipmaster a little too much.
I tried to stay out of everybody’s way.
MEN AT WORK
Lots of man-hours put in by young recent graduates of Cornell that Edward
terms The McKuen Mafia. Does that make me The Rod Father?
We will continue to work on The Store, sorting, classifying and adding to
the products, but Stanyan House has always been planned as more than a
store and a chat room.
In the coming months new columns will start appearing on a daily basis at
Stanyan. Ken Blackie and Bruce Bellingham have agreed to be among the
first contributors and Melinda Smith will have a feature entitled This
Month in Stanyan History. I would like to talk Eric Yeager into writing a
technical feature that addresses CPU problems and I’m hoping we can work
out a way of marketing downloadable tracks from my albums and those of
other Stanyan artists. With an eye toward that Eric has already converted
dozens of tracks to the MPG format.
Jay Hagan has been vague about his contribution but I’m sure he will
surprise us with something unusual since he is recently retired with too
much free time on his hands.
SITES WE LIKE will have links to the personal and official websites of
other artists including Frank Sinatra, Glenn Yarbrough, Bette Midler,
Jacques Brel, Bob Gentry, Stephanie Beacham, Jimmy Webb, Barbara Striesand,
Josh Grobin, John Beland and many, many more. There will be links to
poetry and literature sites too.
Google will power our search engine and there will be an online thesaurus,
dictionary, rhyming dictionary, and at least one encyclopedia. Visitors to
Stanyan House will eventually be able to access CNN, NBC, CBS and The New
York Times for news features and breaking stories.
The Gallery in Stanyan House will have rotating exhibitions of important
artists works. One of the first shows will contain paintings and drawings
by the African-American folk artist Sister Gertrude Morgan. It will
coincide with a retrospective of her art opening in May at The New York
Folk Art Museum. Some of you may remember that I used paintings by Sister
Gertrude to illustrate the Stanyan Book, “God’s Greatest Hits.” I have
loaned several of my “Morgans” for the NY Show and I will attend opening
Another artist deserving an on-line exhibition of his dark,
often-disturbing work is Todd Stile. Todd is a young artist I got to know
when he digitized the Stanyan library for A Safe Place to Land. His art
continues to amaze.
Speaking of folk-art, as we did a paragraph back, Phyllis Diller who has
talent coming out of her ears and elbows, discovered late in life (ala
Grandma Moses) that she was an artist. She now has exhibitions all over
the country and I’m hoping I can presume because of fifty-plus years of
friendship to let me stage her first exhibit in cyberspace.
In The Library we hope to call your attention to the works of poets such
as AD Winnins, Andrew Orke, and my old friend Charles Plymel among others.
More ideas for Stanyan House than time or space to jot them down here. The
aim of those of us involved with it is to turn you on to what we like and
believe you will come to know and enjoy too.
A FEW MORE WORDS ABOUT RUSTING IN THE RAIN
As I mentioned you can begin ordering the book on Wednesday and we expect
to have copies of it in the Stanyan House store February 8th and will
begin shipping them the following day. The book store price for Rusting in
the Rain will be $21.00 but for the next several months the book it will
only be available from Stanyan House and the price is $18.00 each or three
I’ll be out of town when the books arrive and then I’m off to Dallas for a
private engagement on Valentines Day and won’t be home until the end of
the month. I mention this because I’ll be unable to personally sign any
books until mid-March after The Hamilton High and the annual STAGE
benefits (more about them later in the week.)
I have signed and numbered a couple hundred pages that will be bound into
a Boxed Edition and it will also be available on February 8th. The price
for the boxed, signed & numbered edition is $25.00.
I am proud of Rusting in the Rain but you know me, I have already started
rewriting it. Below are two of the shorter poems from the new book.
I’m off to feed the cats and catch a bite myself then it’s back to the
Super Bowl game. Sleep warm and meet me here Wednesday for Webmaster Ken’s
This One Does it For Me.
RM 2/2/2004 6:33 PM PST.
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